Whenever we talk about Marcos in the family, I do not hear stories of disgust or condemnation especially from my mother and father. Because of this, I grew up neither hating nor loving Ferdinand Marcos.
My father had a firsthand experience of the war in Mindanao during Martial Law in the late 70s and early 80s. His family was one of the bakwit, evacuees who transferred from one place to another to avoid armed conflict. Their community in Kiamba, Sarangani Province (back then Sarangani had not yet been declared a separate province of South Cotabato) became one of the war zones in the SOCSKSARGEN region. Thousands of families were displaced and many young Muslims joined the fighting. Because he could not anymore tolerate the injustices they had experienced in the hands of the Ilaga, the Christian paramilitary group tasked to purge Mindanao of Muslims, my father enlisted in the Black Shirt movement. By joining the Muslim militia, he helped avenge his fellow Moro brothers and sisters who had been killed by the Ilaga and the military.
As my father shared this war story, I was waiting for him to blame Pres. Marcos for it. But he put more emphasis on the effects of intense militarization and the chaos it brought to their lives. I wondered what their leaders had indoctrinated in them that their view of the war seemed only on the surface.
This sentiment is similar to what I heard when we interviewed Moros who had been victims of Martial Law. The Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) assigned our group to make a documentary film on Moro issues. We visited various places in Mindanao to interview Moros and Lumad who experienced marginalization through land dispossession, historical injustices, and human rights violations. In one of our interviews, we visited Malisbong in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, which was one of the greatly affected places during Martial Law, and talked to the survivors of what is known as the Malisbong massacre.
As the survivors recalled, soldiers and officers of the 15th and 19th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine military carried out search-and-destroy missions around the coastal villages in Palimbang. The thundering sound and explosion of bombs and cannons overwhelmed the community, destroying public and private properties.
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